Two hundred and thirty years before BeveridgeBMJ 2008; 337 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.a571 (Published 30 June 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a571
- Wendy Moore, freelance writer and author, London
In the sloth-like progress that characterises medical history, few visionaries have lived to see their dreams reach fruition. Reformer Beatrice Webb died a tragic five years before the creation of the National Health Service she outlined in 1909. But that was nothing to John Bellers, the Quaker philanthropist who advocated a state funded health service more than two centuries before Britain’s Labour government took the hint.
A wealthy London cloth merchant, Bellers (1654-1725) never shrank from grand schemes that helped those worse off. In 1695 he proposed a “Colledge of Industry” to provide training and employment for the poor in a self sufficient community that would later inspire …